A month or so ago we received an email from a PR company on behalf of the Visit Swansea Bay tourism board inviting us down to Swansea Bay for the weekend to explore the area. We’ve both been to Wales before but never to Swansea Bay, along with the Brecon Beacons it was on our ever-growing list of places to visit, so of course, we jumped at the chance and accepted the invite. A few weeks later we had received our itinerary and on a Friday afternoon set off for Swansea Bay.
For those who haven’t heard of Swansea Bay, it is located along the South West coast of Wales and is an area of outstanding natural beauty. We both were surprised just how nice it was, the beaches are stunning and the countryside was picture perfect and all within easy reach of Wales’ second city, Swansea.
Parc-Le-Breos, Bed & Breakfast
Our first stop and base for the weekend were the beautiful Parc-Le-Breos on the Gower peninsula, which is about a 20-minute drive west of Swansea. As we drove through the grounds (imagine ancient woodlands) towards the house we were, took away by the natural beauty of the area and later learned the house is set in the grounds of a Norman deer park. The house was no shrinking violet either, a 19th-century hunting lodge now turned into a charming bed and breakfast with an attached working farm, surrounded by perfectly maintained gardens including a few quirky features, like a blue telephone box and an old vehicle turned into a flower bed.
Once inside and greeted by the very friendly owner Olive, we were given a brief tour of the house which includes a dining room, a relaxing, airy conservatory where you can also eat, a games room, complete with a snooker and ping pong table and a guest kitchen with a fridge. All the rooms are traditionally decorated keeping in sync with the rest of the house including the bedrooms which were very comfy and homely but with all the amenities you would expect in a modern hotel.
As we had arrived in the evening a three-course meal had been arranged for us to enjoy at the house which we were pleased about because all we wanted to do was relax after a traffic-heavy drive up to Swansea Bay. The food which was served was home-cooked and very good, with all the ingredients grown at Parc-Le-Breos or locally sourced, we went to bed with full bellies ready for our first full day in Swansea Bay.
Three Cliffs Bay
Our first full day exploring Swansea bay started with a delicious full Welsh breakfast, similar to the full English breakfast just with a few added extras, like fried potatoes. After breakfast, we decided to take the short 20-minute walk down to Three Cliffs Bay, which is supposedly one of the most photographed areas on the Gower. The walk took us through the grounds of Parc-Le-Breos, down some lanes and tracks through to the bay itself.
Where we live on the south coast of England the beaches are nice, but with pebbles and no sand, the beach at high cliffs bay is so far, without doubt, the sandiest beach we’ve been to in the UK, and it’s massive until the tide comes in when apparently the whole bay is filled with water. Walking down to the bay you are presented with sweeping views, of the bay itself but also the ruins of Pennard Castle which is sat overlooking three cliffs bay. We spent 30 mins just wandering around, taking pictures, and climbing up and over the numerous sand dunes before it was time to head back, grab the car and drive to our next destination.
360 Beach and Watersports
Has anyone tried SUP? (Stand up paddle boarding) well, this was our first time and we loved it. It’s something we had always wanted to do and imagined we would try in a warmer country where the sea is a bit more pleasant, not in the Bristol Channel. But it wasn’t as cold as we expected and once in the water we soon got used to it. After a brief introduction to SUP and a rundown on some techniques on how to stand and paddle etc, we grabbed our boards and headed in. The first five minutes were not the easiest, even though the very helpful and great instructor made it sound very easy. Once on the board and we got our balance and the correct position we soon picked it up and went on our knees to standing up in no time at all.
We spent around an hour paddling around, heading up and down the coast, and even caught a few waves which, was a great feeling. We thoroughly enjoyed our introduction to SUP and will definitely be trying it again, for anyone who hasn’t tried it we recommend giving it a go, and if you find yourself in Swansea bay head to 360 watersports. The service they provide is second to none, not only are they very friendly and helpful, but they will also happily take your GoPro and get some action shots for you on the boards. Not only do they offer various beaches and watersports, including kayaking and kite surfing but also the facilities, are excellent with clean and spacious shower and changing rooms.
There is also the 360 cafe bar attached giving you panoramic views across Swansea Bay, which is exactly where we went after a tiring session paddle boarding, we were starving and needed an ice-cold drink. Maybe a bit too hungry as we completely forget to take any photos of the food served but take it from us it was very good and pleasantly surprised by the choice on the menu which included our favorite hummus and falafels.
Oystermouth Castle & The Mumble
The next stop on our itinerary was a 10-minute drive from 360 water sports to the headland on the western edge of Swansea bay known as Mumbles. Walking through the town you could see why it is very popular with visitors to the area, the main high street is filled with boutique shops and quirky galleries including the Lovespoon gallery, check out the website here.
If you carry on towards the tip of the headland you will find a Victorian pier and a lighthouse built-in 1794. But the top attraction and the main reason we found ourselves in Mumbles was to visit Oystermouth castle. Sat on a hilltop the castle provides some stunning views down on the town, Mumbles, and out across Swansea Bay. The castle dates back to the 12th century and over the years have been occupied by kings, lords, and ladies and recently has undergone a multi-million-pound renovation to conserve the structure of the castle.
While the castle is fairly small compared to others in the UK we spent over an hour walking the ramparts and exploring the numerous vaults and chambers within the walls of the castle. Two of our highlights were finding 14th-century graffiti art and Alina’s chapel which has until recently not been open to the public. The time had come for us to leave which was a shame as there was so much to see and do, but we had to head back to Parc-Le-Breos to freshen up before heading out for our evening meal at the Welcome to Town gastropub.
Welcome To Town
We had been looking forward to having a meal at the Welcome to Inn ever since we had received the itinerary and checked out the website, there wasn’t one thing on the menu that didn’t catch our attention and it didn’t disappoint.
The Welcome To Town is located in the town of Llanrhidian in north Gower, over 300 years old and steeped in history it has become an integral part of the community. Before we went in and ate, we crossed the road and had a walk around the ancient 13th-century church of St Rhidian and St IIItyd. The main reason we wanted to visit the church was to see the ‘leper stone’ a 9th century 2 meter long stone which had been carved to represent the biblical story of St Paul and St Antony meeting in the desert. Unfortunately, the light was fading and we were unable to get a quality picture.
It was time to eat and we made our way inside Welcome To Town to be greeted with a friendly smile and with a relaxed atmosphere we were made to feel welcome straight away. Our table was reserved for upstairs in the dining room but there is an option to sit downstairs in the bar area and enjoy your meal there.
We picked our meals from the menu, which we must say was a hard decision, every meal sounded amazing. We both went with the duck breast as a main and chili prawns and pate as a starter, the food was delicious, that good we couldn’t manage a pudding which was a shame as the selection looked great. Throughout the evening the service was first class and the waitress was always nearby to help, even though the pub was very busy. The first day of our Swansea Bay adventure was over and tomorrow we would be heading home but not before an action-packed morning in Oxwich bay.
Our final day exploring Swansea bay had arrived and before we packed up and left Parc-Le-Breos we made our way down to breakfast to indulge in another full Welsh breakfast. Once breakfast was over and we had packed the car we said our goodbyes and made our way 15 mins further west on the Gower peninsula to Oxwich bay.
The first stop of the day was coasteering and a Thundercat ride with Oxwich Watersports, something neither of us had done before but was excited to experience. We started with the Thundercat ride, a lightweight inflatable catamaran fitted with a racing engine that goes at some amazingly high speeds performing tight turns. Throughout the ride, we were in the air numerous times performing maneuvers that seemed impossible racing around the stunningly beautiful Oxwich bay. We later went on to learn the Thundercat was originally developed to be used as a life-saving surf rescue craft off of South Africa.
Next up was coasteering and probably the highlight of the whole trip (which is hard to say as it was all great). We jumped into a rib and made our way across the bay before coming to a stop just the other side of Three Cliffs Bay which we visited the day before.
We jumped off the rib into the sea and swam over to the cliffs to begin our climb up. After a bit of climbing and scrambling, we climbed up part of the cliff before making our way across to the first ledge to jump off. The first jump is always the worse, especially if it’s something you’ve never done, but to be honest, it wasn’t overly high and it went smoothly. The hardest part was after the jump when trying to get back onto the rocks while the waves were crashing about around you, after a few attempts we got a foothold and made our way back up the rocks to perform a few more jumps before our time was up and we had to make our way back to shore.
We had a great time with Oxwich Watersports and they went out of their way to make sure we enjoyed the trip and had a great time. They provided wetsuits, safety helmets, and buoyancy aid, full safety instructions all along with a sense of humor to ensure we enjoyed our experience with them. We will definitely be returning again.
Oxwich Bay Hotel
A short walk from Oxwich Watersports is the Oxwich Bay Hotel and our final stop on the itinerary before heading home. After a morning climbing and jumping in the sea, we had worked up a decent appetite and was happy to sit down for a spot of lunch with great views out across Oxwich bay.
The head chef Dan Williams has created a menu that had us umming and ahhing trying to decide what to have, all the dishes sounded amazing and if we could we would have had them all. In the end, we went for a beef roast dinner, a Welsh burger, and a dark chocolate lattice and sorbet to share for afters. Each meal tasted delicious and the service throughout was top-notch, with a relaxed atmosphere we could have sat at our table for the rest of the afternoon watching the world go by, but unfortunately, it was time for us to leave and head back home.
Our weekend in Swansea Bay was great from start to finish and we will be returning to explore more of the area and definitely try out some more water sports. It shows you don’t have to travel far from home to have a great time and experience new adventures.